Francesco Jodice

Spazio Erasmus/Photo & Co.

In Milan, thirty-six-year-old Francesco Jodice exhibited large photographs, taken in various metropolises, emphasizing details that would otherwise be lost within an urban scenario packed with thousands of potential images. Or he juxtaposed images shot in rapid succession, building sequences. His exhibition in Turin used photographs, texts, and maps to reconstruct a famous murder case in the upstate New York countryside—The Crandell Case, 2002–. He’d even taped witnesses’ accounts and created a map showing where the events took place, the way detectives working the case might. What is the common thread connecting these diverse approaches? Precisely a sense of the insufficiency of the photographic image: Jodice doesn’t search for images so much as for stories to tell.

Beginning with an investigation of the city—typical of recent Italian photography—Jodice has ended up recounting the city’s metamorphoses. As a founding member of the group Multiplicity, whose work was seen in the last Documenta, he helped to create a web of relationships, both among the different components of the group, scattered throughout Europe, and between places taken as paradigms of fragmentation and the process of uprooting. Thus, in one image (not included in Milan), he showed how, in Belgrade after the war, a microcity of huts sprouted up along the streets, where people sold goods of all sorts after bombing had destroyed the commercial centers. Or, more simply, how the interior of a taxi in Singapore represents an entire world of desires, through the abundance of trinkets and ornaments its owner has placed there. A series of spare, life-size portraits bore witness to the different cultural and ethnic presences coexisting within a single urban society.

The voracity with which Jodice consumes images and stories through photography is almost indescribable. His global project, potentially endless, might be titled after one of his ongoing series of images, “What We Want,” begun in 1997: He seeks to map the landscape as a projection of people’s desires. To achieve this, he travels the world, looking for significant crime scenes or “cathedrals in the desert” and literally shadowing people, who thus reveal the banal secrets of their lives. He captures images of places—for the most part urban—that contain references to other places, to other stories. And where images don’t suffice, he uses words (in the form of brief anecdotes and snippets of conversations) reproduced on photographic paper, the same size as the images, themselves quite large—putting word and image on the same plane.

Jodice’s activity is febrile, as if he wanted to be everyplace and in all situations, because all places and all situations are interesting. This titanism, the aspiration to bear witness to “everything,” risks disintegrating his chosen tool, photography, or in any case transforming it into a sort of continuous take, not yet cinema or video but no longer just photography. He wants to do everything except “stop” reality. Reality is a flow, an interweaving, a story that photography cannot and must not arrest.

Marco Meneguzzo

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.